Driver incentive schemes cover a wide range of interventions which can be used to back up training, cultural change, or to prompt driver behaviour in another direction.
However, great care needs to be taken to ensure that rewards really do create cultural change, as opposed to encouraging ways of circumventing the proper process because drivers literally have their eyes on the prize.
Rhys Harrhy, a Profleet 2 development consultant at ALD Automotive, says many of the company’s telematics customers have implemented reward schemes as part of their intervention package and seen substantial savings.
This is still more common in commercial vehicle fleets than car fleets, as CV fleets have much higher fuel bills and more often have the means to monitor and measure performance.
“Training can lead drivers to ask: what’s in it for me? Financial incentives can garner a more positive response,” says Harrhy.
There is a range of incentives fleets can use to reward specific behaviours, such as extra holiday, cash, vouchers, eligibility for a vehicle upgrade or simple recognition.
The first difficulty, however, is creating a level playing field. If a company wants to cut fuel bills then measuring total consumption clearly isn’t fair as different vehicles and mileages will skew the results.
Equally, companies must decide whether they wish to reward excellence, or improvement, which may be very different things.
As the fleet sector has moved towards recognising the benefits of targeted training, those drivers fleet managers most want to incentivise may, in fact, be among the worst in the fleet, and not the best.
Few companies in the UK offer straight out financial incentives, although this has been tried in the commercial vehicle world, where drivers can share in the savings from fuel economy or lower insurance premiums.
Will Murray, research director at Interactive Driving Systems, says companies must be extremely careful in their approach to such schemes.
“There is the law of unintended consequences,” he says. “If you financially incentivise collision-free driving, drivers can be tempted to stop reporting small bumps; equally, they may top the tank up out of their own pocket to share in the savings bonus.”
The loss of accurate data is therefore a huge drawback.
Equally, disincentivising or penalising collisions can lead to drivers withholding information their employer needs if they are to identify potential trends and problems.
Murray says incentives can be useful if done properly, but are no substitute for good leadership, good training and good practice.